Monday, April 11, 2011

Fireworks

Drifter got to go out with the gelding herd on grass this afternoon. Prior to that, he'd done some nose sniffing while in his stall and over the fence - he did a lot of bellowing and striking and this morning when I had him sniff noses with Fritz - I was standing well clear - Drifter bellowed, reared and struck, taking down one fence board.  I expected there'd be some fireworks at turnout, and there were.

I turned him out in the big pasture - it's about 6 or 7 acres so plenty of running room.  Scout went in next - there was an explosion of screaming, rearing, striking and double-barreled kicking, mostly initiated by Drifter.  Here's a couple of examples of what was going on - I didn't take many pictures as I was watching too closely:



I think the little guy was somewhat scared - when his rearing, striking and chest-crashing didn't scare Scout off - Scout has about 6 inches in height and several hundred pounds on him - he reverted to wheeling around and kicking.  No contact was made.  Then Pie went in - there was a three-way melee of rearing, striking and more chest-crashing, and more kicking - the only contact was when Scout kicked Pie in the ribs by mistake - it was a glancing blow and didn't do any serious damage.  Scout and Pie then galloped off to the far end of the pasture. Then Fred and Fritz went in - they immediately galloped off to the far end of the pasture to join their buddies, ignoring Drifter who had stayed by the gate.

Drifter loitered by the gate - Charisma's paddock is right there and I guess she was a familiar face.  At one point he did canter out to the far end of the pasture to visit the two groups of horses that were grazing out there.  There was more squealing and striking when he met Fritz, but it was less violent than the first encounters, and there was no kicking.  Then Drifter cantered over near to Pie who was grazing.  Pie ignored him and pretty soon Drifter cantered back up to the gate.

I managed to force myself to leave at this point after checking all the combatants over for injuries.  When I came back later in the afternoon, there were still two camps - Drifter was at the top of the pasture next to the gate and the rest of the geldings were clumped together at the bottom.  At one point, Fritz made an incursion into neutral territory and Drifter actually ran at him and chased him down the fence line back to his group - Fritz is our putative alpha, so it'll be interesting to see how things develop.  New horse introductions are always scary, although there was a lot more action with this one than with prior horse introductions I've done.  Although Drifter was in a small herd of three horses and a mule in his old home, I don't know how much experience he has in herd situations.  I expect he'll find his place pretty quickly, and perhaps a friend which should help him settle in.

And later in the afternoon, Drifter and I had a serious, long work session - there'll be another post along shortly with lots of photos.

6 comments:

  1. Wow - I would have been worried watching Drifter's outbursts I think. Can't wait to hear how the hierarchy shakes out.

    Kate - I linked to an older post of yours about natural balance dentistry just now - hope that's okay. :)

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  2. Fireworks definitely. I hope Drifter can find a buddy horse at some point.

    Dan

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  3. Drifter will find his place in the hierarchy soon enough. They always have a way of working it out on their own. I always hope no one gets hurt in the process and have been pleasantly surprised that they rarely do.

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  4. Herd dynamics are always fascinating.
    Drifter's behavior is interesting when considering that most horses that are alone try to fit in with the herd for safety.
    Instead, Drifter chases all the other horses away or attacks them ad seems to prefer being on his own.
    You'll have to let us know how this saga unfolds.

    ~Lisa

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  5. Lisa - I actually think he didn't feel as if he were alone - he felt that Charisma was his herd and that she was his mare - he'd been out previously with mares and I don't know if he's ever been out with geldings before. His behavior running down Fritz is pretty classic herd guarding behavior where a stallion runs another stallion away from his mares.

    Today we're going to swap pastures so he's farther away from Charisma to see if that induces him to try to join up with the gelding herd.

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  6. Sometimes it does take a while for them to settle in, but with no one getting hurt or really going after each other, it sounds like they'll be fine. :)

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